Written by Mike Benson Friday, 04 January 2019 00:00
This would be my third time racing on Cape Cod. The race had been called CrossMas in prior years because of the timing at the Christmas holiday. This year was different, and promoters secured a late September weekend. Not that I don’t like a cold weather race, but I like Cape Cod a lot better in the fall. The riding is spectacular, whether it is a road ride along the coast on the outer cape or secret gravel trails on the Old Kings Highway.
The course is situated along a lake at a secluded YMCA camp in Sandwich, MA. This makes for a great backdrop for racers and spectators. The race promoter covers food options with a local brick oven pizza vendor. Families and friends also donate breakfast foods and snacks (i.e. muffins, cookies, fruit, etc.) that are for sale during the event. They also have an announcer which adds to the great race vibe. There is plenty of parking and good facilities to change and use bathrooms. The surrounding camp is a huge area so there is ample room to warm up on camp roads and trails.
The race starts below the deck of the camp's main hall. Racers are ushered through number of trails and cart roads that surround numerous cabins at the camp. From there, racers hit the beach. Nobody was able to ride the sand. Racers were forced to shoulder their bikes and run up and back at a 180-degree turn along the soft beach sand. This was not our only visit to the beach today as well. Before the final sprint to the finish, racers hit the beach for a short 180 turn and remount (not too different from NBX day 2). This track also had some good climbs and elevation changes to some upper ball fields. During the later laps, the steeper climbs forced me off my bike to run the last 5-10 feet. Once in the upper ball fields, there were some fast turns through the course tape before descending back down to the lake. In prior years, when the fields received rain, it got mud-boggy up there. I was glad for a drier year. The descent was fast, sandy, rutty, and had some corners that would send you flying if you didn’t control your speed correctly. During the middle laps of the race, I clipped one of the downhill course stakes with my brake hood, while making a tight corner at speed. This sent my flying over my bars and losing 3 spots in the race. I also lost my bike computer here but didn’t realize this until the end of the race. I spent 30 minutes looking for the computer and was about to give up until I heard someone asking if anyone lost an Element Bolt. Wow, what a relief to get that back. From now on, it will be tethered to the bike. From here, I battled my way forward and passed who I could. When the race finished, my dad asked how I did. I wasn’t sure until the results were posted 30 minutes later, and I was super happy to grab another podium (3rd place) today. It was another long race at just under 48 minutes. I appreciate the longer races because it allows me to sort things out a bit and fight my way back towards the front.
I was racing my new Kona Super Jake today, which I had built up 4 days earlier. I pre-rode it only a day earlier on a hard openers ride and decided to race it even though I hadn’t tested it for too many miles. Luckily everything stayed tight in working condition. Kona has been building cross bikes for decades and this Super Jake is the best yet. I cannot overstate how nice this bike feels and rides. If you are on the fence on what to get for a new whip, you will not be disappointed. I was also testing my new Dugast Pipisquallo tubular tires on Carver C38’s. These tires are fast and really grippy even though the tread pattern is minimalistic. They also performed great at low pressures. I am always concerned about flatting with tubulars because of cost and time to replace. Hence, I’ve sometimes ran my tires with too high of a pressure which has led to less than spectacular performance. I feel that these tires have just proved to be more durable than the Challenge tubulars that I have been running. The sidewalls come pre-coated to prevent sidewall rotting unlike the Challenge tires I’ve used. As for the light carbon Carver C38 wheels, they are fairly bullet proof as long as you take care of the hub bearings. They’ve stayed true no matter how much banging I’ve given them.
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